January 4

John 1:35-42

The First Disciples

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Advent is a liturgical waiting for the Messiah. Christmas is the liturgical revelation of Christ, the messiah. Now that the Christmas season is about to end can we proclaim like Andrew in today’s gospel that we have found the Messiah? Finding Him however is not enough. When Andrew told Peter about his encounter with the Lord, they both followed Him. Peter and Andrew are models of what it means to make Christmas, the birthday of Christ, lasting and persisting in one’s life. Celebrating Christmas without following Christ after this beautiful passing feast. It is through our constant listening and living the words of Christ that we transform Christmas into a more lasting reality, a constant source of hope and joy. (Fr. Jun Castro, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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Love at first sight? “Jesus looked at Peter and said: ‘you are Simon…you will be called Kephas (Peter)’” v.42. It must have been penetrating and captivating look! Peter followed him like a meek lamb.

There must be many ways of looking like dagger-like looks that wound, seductive looks that tempt, etc. But there are also looks of tenderness, comfort and support. Accompanied with right words, the look can revive lost hopes; encourage one to move on in spite of the burdens that weigh upon the person. But the best look is the one that says to the person: “I love you and you can count on me.” It is the “look of love.” Is this not why we look at the body of the Lord in the Mass or stare at him in adoration chapels? Are we not encouraged by the look of Jesus to continue following him, like Peter, no matter what the cost? (Fr. Bong Bongayan, SVD Bible Diary 2002).

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Even among us priests problems arise when times of reshuffling come. Some of us cling to our parish, just like some politicians cling to their posts, when new appointments are released.

But not with Fr. Franz, a diocesan priest. Fr. Franz had just finished building a new convent in the parish where he was assigned. Even before the completion of his house, he knew that soon he would be transferred to another parish; and a new priest (SVD) would be taking his place. This time before he left for his new assignment, he prepared the people to welcome the priest that would replace him. He told his community, “Parting is always painful. Adjusting to your new priest is burdensome. But I want you to prepare yourselves to welcome the one that comes after me. In case some of you want me to stay and ask the bishop to reconsider my transfer, please don’t. for I would consider it a failure on my part if you became attached to me and not to Christ and His Church.”

I am not canonizing my brother priest in Palawan, but his thinking somehow resembles that of St. John’s work in today’s gospel. St. John’s work was to lead people not to himself but to Christ, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” There is a particular sentence in the gospel which confirms this, namely, “The two disciples of John heard John and followed Jesus.” Logically, it would have been, “They heard John and followed John.” But here, affirming John’s clear vision of his mission, the gospel declares, “they heard John and followed Jesus.”

Leading the way to God is everybody’s work, especially for us Christians. Each one of us is a missionary. But our gentle and kind ways we reflect God’s care to all. When was the last time we brought someone to God? (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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This gospel highlights two intriguing nuances in John’s gospel. First is his attention to details. Example is the time he and Andrew met Jesus for the first time – four o’clock in the afternoon. Second is his giving attention to Andrew whom the Synoptics ignore. John mentions Andrew three times on different important instances. One, when Andrew broke the news to his brother Simon that he had found the Messiah and personally brought the latter to Jesus (vv. 42-42a). Two, when Andrew brought to Jesus the boy who had five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:8-9). The third instance was when Andrew and Philip introduced to Jesus some Greek-speaking foreigners who came to worship in Jerusalem (John 12:20-22).

The people Andrew brought to Jesus had crucial roles in the mission of Jesus. The fisherman Simon became the leader of the apostles and eventually the first pope. The nameless boy provided the materials for the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fish. The unknown Greek-speaking foreigners became the messengers of the faith in their homeland.

In the true sense of the word, Andrew was a frontline missionary.  He lived the mandate of Jesus to “go to the whole world to preach the gospel to all nations,” (Matt 28:18-20). According to Tradition, Andrew untiringly preached the faith in Greece and ended his life there crucified in an X-form.

Of the four evangelists, it is only John who gives credit to Andrew’s “little” tasks of bringing people to Jesus. Is it because they were fellow disciples of john the Baptist? Or is it because John was keen at the seemingly insignificant accomplishments of people who are not in the limelight?

Today we talk a lot about affirmation which means recognizing and acknowledging whatever good someone has done. This is precisely what John did to Andrew. (Sr. Angelita Roferos, SSpS Bible Diary 2008)

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: January 4

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